Tag: Thomas Nelson

Quote from The Solace of Water: I thought she was pretty brave and stupid to lie to me—but it made me see her like she a real person and not some perfect Christian who never sinned.

Book Review | The Solace of Water by Elizabeth Byler Younts

The Solace of Water is not your run-of-the-mill Christian fiction.

It’s set in 1956, in the small town of Sinking Creek, Pennsylvania. The writing is excellent, with strong and original character voices. The story is told in first person from the point of view of three main characters: Emma, Delilah, and Sparrow. Each hides secrets and pain. No, this isn’t an easy read (and there should be a trigger warning for self-harm).

Emma is Amish, and has lived in Sinking Creek her entire life. She gives the outward appearance of being a submissive Amish wife, but she’s hiding secrets—her own, and her husband’s. Delilah and her family have recently moved to Sinking Creek from Montgomery, Alabama, but she finds moving doesn’t take away her troubles. Sparrow is Delilah’s daughter. Sparrow knows Delilah blames her for her brother’s death, and knows there is nothing she can do to change that.

Delilah was a difficult character to empathise with.

Sure, she’s grieving the loss of her four-year-old son, but she’s an adult. She shouldn’t blame her daughter, even if her daughter was supposed to be watching the younger children. This provides plenty of conflict between Delilah and Sparrow, and is the impetus behind both Delilah and Sparrow’s developing relationship with Emma.

Emma has her own secrets.

A drunk for a husband, a rebel for a son, and a marriage fractured by hurt. She’s intrigued by this new family in town who worship in such a different way to her, and she’s puzzled at Delilah’s reluctance to befriend her.

I think Sparrow was my favourite character.

She’s the victim, the character who has had little control over the situation she finds herself in. Now she’s struggling to be in control. She is intrigued by Emma and her son, who treat her as equals. But this is 1950s America and segregation is real, whether the physical signs are there or not.

The Solace of Water is a fascinating exploration of racial differences and prejudice set in the early years of the Civil Rights struggle. It emphasises how we’re often afraid of “different”. It shows how it’s important to understand and work through our differences—especially with other Christians.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Elizabeth Byler Younts

Elizabeth Byler YountsElizabeth Byler Younts writes women’s fiction for Harper Collins/Thomas Nelson. She is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers. She gained a worldwide audience through her first book Seasons: A Real Story of an Amish Girl and is a RITA nominated writer. She is also the author of The Promise of Sunrise series. She has consulted on Amish lifestyle and the Pennsylvania Dutch dialect for two award-winning television shows. Elizabeth lives in Central Pennsylvania with her husband, two daughters, and a cockapoo named Fable.

FInd Elizabeth Byler Younts online at:

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About The Solace of Water

In a time of grief and heartache, an unlikely friendship provides strength and solace.

After leaving her son’s grave behind in Montgomery, Alabama, Delilah Evans has little faith that moving to her husband’s hometown in Pennsylvania will bring a fresh start. Enveloped by grief and doubt, the last thing Delilah imagines is becoming friends with her reclusive Amish neighbor, Emma Mullet—yet the secrets that keep Emma isolated from her own community bond her to Delilah in delicate and unexpected ways.

Delilah’s eldest daughter, Sparrow, bears the brunt of her mother’s pain, never allowed for a moment to forget she is responsible for her brother’s death. When tensions at home become unbearable for her, she seeks peace at Emma’s house and becomes the daughter Emma has always wanted. Sparrow, however, is hiding secrets of her own—secrets that could devastate them all.

With the white, black, and Amish communities of Sinking Creek at their most divided, there seems to be little hope for reconciliation. But long-buried hurts have their way of surfacing, and Delilah and Emma find themselves facing their own self-deceptions. Together they must learn how to face the future through the healing power of forgiveness.

Eminently relevant to the beauty and struggle in America today, The Solace of Water offers a glimpse into the turbulent 1950s and reminds us that friendship rises above religion, race, and custom—and has the power to transform a broken heart.

Find The Solace of Water online at:

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Read the introduction to The Solace of Water below:

Click here to find The Solace of Water and other great Christian fiction in my Amazon shop!

First Line Friday

#FirstLineFriday | Week 61 | Delayed Justice by Cara Putman

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Delayed Justice by Cara Putman:

First line from Delayed Justice by Cara Putman: "It's time to go, sweetie." Jaime shook her head.

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Delayed Justice

She had long given up the desire to be loved. Now she only needed to be heard.

Jaime Nichols went to law school to find the voice she never had as a child, and her determination to protect girls and women in the path of harm drives her in ways both spoken and unspoken. As Jaime, now a criminal defense attorney, prepares to press charges against someone who wronged her long ago, she must face not only her demons but also the unimaginable forces that protect the powerful man who tore her childhood apart.

Chandler Bolton, a retired veteran, is tasked with helping a young victim who must testify in court—and along with his therapy dog, Aslan, he’s up for the task. When he first meets Jaime, all brains, beauty, and brashness, he can’t help but be intrigued. As Chandler works to break through the wall Jaime has built around herself, the two of them discover that they may have more to offer one another than they ever could have guessed—and that together, they may be able to help this endangered child.

This thrilling installment of the Hidden Justice series explores the healing power of resolution and the weight of words given voice. And as Jaime pursues delayed justice of her own, she unearths eternal truths that will change the course of her life.

You can find Delayed Justice online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

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Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

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Quote from Formula of Deception: He was the most strikingly handsome man she had ever seen. The only flaw on him was the wedding ring on his finger.

Book Review | Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks

I thought Formula of Deception was another story in the Gwen Marcey series, so was initially surprised when I realised it’s a standalone novel with all new characters. This perception wasn’t helped by the pages of praise for the Gwen Marcey series at the beginning of the book. It also wasn’t a romance, despite my quote above!

Anyway, it took me a little longer to get in to Formula of Deception, because I kept waiting for Gwen to show up. Spoiler: she doesn’t, because the book isn’t about her.

Formula of Deception begins on April Fool’s Day on a small island of the coast of Alaska as an earthquake then tsunami hit. It then moves to the present day, where Murphy Andersen has got a job as a police artist on Kodiak Island, Alaska. She’s drawing a decades-old murder scene, based on the memories of a dying priest.

Murphy was a fascinating character.

There is obviously some unknown trauma in her history, and this unfolds gradually as the plot progresses, as her personal story collides with the story of the dead bodies … and there are soon more dead bodies. A murderer is on the loose … but is this related to the priest’s memories, Murphy’s own personal history, or something else?

Murphy is hiding details about her personal history from her police colleagues, and it’s not always easy to find the truth in her words, thoughts, and actions. This makes the book a challenge, but is also a strength, as it highlights the tension and the suspense. And there is plenty of suspense.

Recommended for suspense fans. Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Carrie Stuart Parks

Carrie Stuart ParksCarrie Stuart Parks is a Christy finalist as well as a Carol award-winning author. She has won numerous awards for her fine art as well. An internationally known forensic artist, she travels with her husband, Rick, across the US and Canada teaching courses in forensic art to law enforcement professionals. The author/illustrator of numerous books on drawing and painting, Carrie continues to create dramatic watercolors from her studio in the mountains of Idaho.

Find Carrie Stuart Parks online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Formula of Deception

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Find Formula of Deception online:

AmazonChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Formula of Deception below:

Read my review of Portrait of Vengeance by Carrie Stuart Parks

Read my review of When Death Draws Near by Carrie Stuart Parks

First Line Friday

First Line Friday | Week 56 | Formula of Deception

It’s First Line Friday! That means it’s time to pick up the nearest book and quote the first line. Today I’m sharing from Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks:

First line from Formula of Deception by Carrie Stuart Parks:  Murphy Andersen's mission to Kodiak Island was about to collide with her lies.

I don’t like lies in real life. But a character with lies? That’s a promising start for a novel. What do you think?

What’s the book nearest you, and what’s the first line?

About Formula of Deception

An artist hiding from an escaped killer uncovers one of World War II’s most dangerous secrets—a secret that desperate men will do anything to keep hidden.

After the murder of her twin sister, Murphy Anderson changed her name and appearance and moved to Kodiak, Alaska, to avoid the press and publicity. But when local authorities discover she’s an artist and request her help in drawing a dying man’s memories, she unintentionally ends up in the limelight again—and back in the killer’s crosshairs.

The deathbed confessions of an Alaskan hunter have Murphy drawing the five bodies he discovered on remote Ruuwaq Island ten years ago. But what investigators find has them mystified. Evidence suggests that the bodies were deliberately destroyed, and what they uncover in an abandoned Quonset hut from World War II only brings more questions.

As one by one the investigators who were at the hut die, Murphy knows there is something much darker at stake. What happened on this island during the war? And who is willing to kill to keep its secrets buried?

Find Formula of Deception online:

AmazonChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

 

Click the button to check out what my fabulous fellow FirstLineFriday bloggers are sharing today:

You can then click the link which will take you to the master page of all this week’s #FirstLineFriday posts.

And you can click here to check out my previous FirstLineFriday posts.

Share your first line in the comments, and happy reading!

#ThrowbackThursday | Beneath Copper Falls by Colleen Coble

It’s Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Beneath Copper Falls, another nailbiting romantic suspense novel from Colleen Coble. This review was first published at Suspense Sisters Reviews.

A woman is murdered—drowned—in the Prologue. Another woman is almost drowned in the first chapter. Is that creepy or what?

Dana, the almost-victim, escapes from her fiance and returns home to Rock Harbor.

She knows Garrett might track her home, but figures she’ll be surrounded by friends, and he’ll stick out in the small town. He’s determined to get her back—and she’s just as determined to stay away from him, to stay safe.

She has decided she doesn’t need a man to take care of her, but then she meets Boone Carter. That’s a first meeting that doesn’t go well! But they reconcile, and … but that would be telling. Suffice to say this is romantic suspense, and although the emphasis is largely on the suspense, there is still enough romance to keep romance lovers happy.

This was a great story, full of suspense and misdirection.

I thought I’d figured out the identity of the murderer, then something happened which meant I had to be wrong (and I was). We also saw more of the evildoer’s MO as the story progressed, and this just ramped up the tension as we saw him working to ensnare his next victim—another Rock Harbor woman.

At this point I hadn’t guessed the evildoer’s true identity, but that didn’t stop me yelling at the character to get away from the creep. I did eventually work out the real murderer (long before Dana, Bree and co worked it out), but that only added to the suspense. He’s behind you! Get out now!

This is the sixth novel in Colleen Coble’s Rock Harbor series. I think I’ve read one or two of the previous novels—Bree rang a bell, but that was all. It didn’t matter. Beneath Copper Falls can easily be read without having read the previous books. I’m sure fans of the series will be thrilled to read a new installment.

Recommended for thriller fans. Best read the day before your manicure appointment, not the day after.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Colleen Coble

Colleen CobleBest-selling author Colleen Coble’s novels have won or finaled in awards ranging from the Best Books of Indiana, the ACFW Carol Award, the Romance Writers of America RITA, the Holt Medallion, the Daphne du Maurier, National Readers’ Choice, and the Booksellers Best. She has over 2 million books in print and writes romantic mysteries because she loves to see justice prevail. Colleen is CEO of American Christian Fiction Writers. She lives with her husband Dave in Indiana.

 

Find Colleen Coble online at:

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About Beneath Copper Falls

Dana has already learned that love isn’t safe . . . but could it be different in Rock Harbor?

As a 911 dispatcher, Dana Newell takes pride in being calm in tough circumstances. In addition to her emotionally-charged career, she’s faced enough emergencies in her own life. She recently escaped her abusive fiancé to move to tranquil Rock Harbor where she hopes life will be more peaceful.

But the idyllic town hides more danger and secrets than it first appeared. Dana is continually drawn to her new friend Boone, who has scars inside and out. Then she answers a call at her job only to hear a friend’s desperate screams on the other end. Soon the pain in her past collides with the mysteries of her new home—and threatens to keep her from the future she’s always wanted.

Find Beneath Copper Falls online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction to Beneath Copper Falls below:

Book Quote: Medals are what people sitting at desks do back home. Trying not to die is what we did up front.

Book Review | Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin

Send Down the Rain is an unusual story in many ways.

It starts decades ago with two brothers the day their father moves out, then jumps forward to the present. The first part shows three different characters, and it wasn’t until about a quarter of the way through that it became clear who the main character was.

Joseph is a 63-year-old Vietnam war veteran who has been running for more years than seems possible. We get to know him only gradually, as the story bounces back and forth between his past and his present, highlighting his failures (and sometimes his successes), his weaknesses and sometimes his strengths. He’s a strong narrator because he is weak: he’s humble and unpretentious and focuses more on what he’s done wrong than what he’s done right.

I got to about the 90% point in this book and thought it was good, but it hadn’t reached the heights of The Mountain Between Us (now a major movie starring Kate Winslet and Idris Elba) or Long Way Gone (a modern retelling of the story of the Prodigal Son).

But by the time I finished Send Down the Rain I had changed my mind.

It’s at least as good as these, but the power builds up and up and only bites at the end. There isn’t an obvious Christian thread or an overt parallel with a Bible story (as there was in Long Way Gone). Send Down the Rain is more of an exploration of love, loyalty, and family, a story of sacrifice and second chances. And that pretty much sums up the gospel.

An outstanding novel of love and faithfulness, in Martin’s trademark understated yet compelling style. Recommended.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Charles Martin

Author Photo: Charles MartinChristy and I married in 1993. If you include dating, I’ve known and loved her for more than half my life. She is and always will be the home for my heart. We have three boys. Charlie, John T. and Rives. Folks often ask me, which of my books do I like the best. You might as well line up my sons and ask me who I love the most.

My hobbies are bow hunting, working out (a blend of old school stuff and martial arts, called Fight Fit) and Tae Kwon Do. In October 2012 I earned my black belt but I’m still the least flexible person you’ve ever met. The guy that trains me, laughs everytime I start warming up. My boys are far better at Tae Kwon Do than I but I doubt they have as much fun – I get to do and watch. They just do.

I also like to write, but that’s another story.

You can find Charles Martin online at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About Send Down the Rain

Allie is still recovering from the loss of her family’s beloved waterfront restaurant on Florida’s Gulf Coast when she loses her second husband to a terrifying highway accident. Devastated and losing hope, she shudders to contemplate the future—until a cherished person from her past returns.

Joseph has been adrift for many years, wounded in both body and spirit and unable to come to terms with the trauma of his Vietnam War experiences. Just as he resolves to abandon his search for peace and live alone at a remote cabin in the Carolina mountains, he discovers a mother and her two small children lost in the forest. A man of character and strength, he instinctively steps in to help them get back to their home in Florida. There he will return to his own hometown—and witness the accident that launches a bittersweet reunion with his childhood sweetheart, Allie.

When Joseph offers to help Allie rebuild her restaurant, it seems the flame may reignite—until a 45-year-old secret from the past begins to emerge, threatening to destroy all hope for their second chance at love.

In Send Down the Rain, Charles Martin proves himself to be a storyteller of great wisdom and compassion who bears witness to the dreams we cherish, the struggles we face, and the courage we must summon when life seems to threaten what we hold most dear.

You can find Send Down the Rain online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads

Quote: It's not something you ever get over, losing a child. But it is something you have to learn to live with. Years later, I still don't know how.

Book Review | Where Hope Begins by Catherine West

Savannah’s husband of twenty years is leaving her for the other woman. Now the house is empty—their three children are at boarding school, college, and in a grave. Broken, Savannah goes to stay in her parent’s holiday home, where she meets the neighbours: an old woman, her nephew, and his daughter.

A daughter who is the spitting image of Savannah’s dead daughter.

Yes, Where Hope Begins has lots of angst. As the story progresses we find out more about how Shelby died, about how Savannah is convinced Shelby’s death was her fault, and convinced husband Kevin blames her, even though he says he doesn’t. We also see how this tragedy shaped their marriage, and paved the way for it’s destruction.

At the lake house, we see Savannah’s developing relationship with Brock, the bestselling author who is her new next-door neighbour. Her very attractive next-door neighbour. Why not? Her husband has left her for another woman and wants a divorce. That presents Savannah with a dilemma … and us as the reader. We’re convinced we don’t like Kevin, but does that justify Savannah’s growing relationship with Brock?

The intricacies of the relationships are compounded by Savannah’s Christian faith, a faith her husband supposedly shared. As Christians, we have clear views on adultery, but when is a marriage over? When is the wronged spouse allowed to move on?

Where Hope Begins is an intelligent, thought-provoking, and emotional read in a situation where there are lots of hard questions and no right answers.

The writing is excellent, as I’ve come to expect from Catherine West. The characters are well-developed, the plot complex but not convoluted, and the Christian elements threaded through but not overwhelming. Oh, and I cried. It’s been a long time since a novel made me cry.

Recommended for anyone looking for Christian fiction that addresses some of the hard issues of life.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Catherine West

Author Photo: Catherine WestCatherine West writes stories of hope and healing from her island home in Bermuda. When she’s not at the computer working on her next story, you can find her taking her Border Collie for long walks or reading books by her favorite authors. She and her husband have two grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. Catherine is the winner of the 2015 Grace Award (Bridge of Faith) and the Romance Writers of America’s Faith, Hope & Love Reader’s Choice Award (The Things We Knew). Her most recent novel, The Memory of You, released March 2017 and Where Hope Begins releases in May 2018.

You can find Catherine West online at:

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About Where Hope Begins

Sometimes we’re allowed to glimpse the beauty within the brokenness . . .

Savannah Barrington has always found solace at her parents’ lake house in the Berkshires, and it’s the place that she runs to when her husband of over twenty years leaves her. Though her world is shaken, and the future uncertain, she finds hope through an old woman’s wisdom, a little girl’s laughter, and a man who’s willing to risk his own heart to prove to Savannah that she is worthy of love.

But soon Savannah is given a challenge she can’t run away from: Forgiving the unforgivable. Amidst the ancient gardens and musty bookstores of the small town she’s sought refuge in, she must reconcile with the grief that haunts her, the God pursuing her, and the wounds of the past that might be healed after all.

Where Hope Begins is the story of grace in the midst of brokenness, pointing us to the miracles that await when we look beyond our own expectations.

Find Where Hope Begins online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Have you read any novels by Catherine West? What did you think?

Quote: Do I believe miracles can happen? Sure. But we have to step aside and let them.

Quote from Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter: Brady kissed like kissing was the whole point, not a brief stop on a journey to some better destination.

Book Review | Honeysuckle Dreams by Denise Hunter

Brady Collins made a mistake.

That mistake left him married with a baby son, then divorced. Now his ex-wife is dead, and he’s learning to navigate life as a solo parent. But then his in-laws sue for custody, saying Brady isn’t Sam’s father. Oops.

Hope Daniels is happy to help.

She loves little Sam as if he was her own. And he might be: Brady’s lawyer mistakenly thinks Hope and Brady are engaged. He points out that being engaged might help Brady in the upcoming custody battle, but not as much as them being married would. So Hope proposes a solution: getting married to make sure Brady gets to keep his son.

The marriage of convenience trope is relatively common in historical romance, but not so common in contemporary. I suspect this is because it can be hard to find a scenario where the circumstances behind the marriage of convenience makes sense. It often reads like a contrived way of getting the characters where the author wants them: married. Sure, the fake engagement and marriage is contrived, but it works for these characters.

My one issue with Honeysuckle Dreams was that Brady was too perfect. Sure, he had problems: his son, his ex-wife’s family, his mother. But they were all external problems. Fixing them relied on other people, not on Brady and his own character journey.

Hope was a much more interesting character.

She’s been in love before, in high school. That relationship ended badly. Her boyfriend collapsed and died in right in front of her at a high school basketball game. It took Hope years to recover and she’s still not sure she’s ready to risk her heart again. And that’s not a good way to begin a marriage, even a marriage of convenience.

Honeysuckle Dreams is the second book in Denise Hunter’s Blue Ridge Romance series, following Blue Ridge Sunrise. She’s also written Sweetbriar Cottage. It isn’t officially part of the Blue Ridge Romance series, but is set in the same town before the events of Blue Ridge Sunrise, and features some of the same characters.

Overall, Honeysuckle Dreams was an excellent contemporary romance, although I didn’t think it measured up to the outstanding Sweetbriar Cottage. Mind you, that’s a hard act for any author to follow.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Denise Hunter

Denise HunterDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 30 books, including “The Convenient Groom” and “A December Bride” which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking good coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband raised three boys and are currently enjoying an empty nest.

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

About Honeysuckle Dreams

After Brady Collins’ ex-wife dies, he receives devastating news—his nine-month-old son Sam isn’t his son at all. And Sam’s wealthy maternal grandparents want custody of the child. Brady knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But regardless of what any blood test says, Sam is his son, and Brady will go to any lengths to keep him.

Brady’s attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiance.

Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and after a happy accident she’s finally offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.

As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find.

You can find Honeysuckle Dreams online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Her plan had completely backfired. And that was the key right there. It had been her plan.

#ThrowbackThursday | Book Review | Blue Ridge Sunrise

It’s #Throwback Thursday! Today I’m sharing my review of Blue Ridge Sunrise by Denise Hunter, first in the Blue Ridge Romance series. The sequel, Honeysuckle Dreams, was published this week.

About Blue Ridge Sunrise

Former free spirit Zoe Collins swore she’d never again set foot in Copper Creek or speak to the man who broke her heart. But return she must when her beloved Granny dies, leaving the family legacy to Zoe—a peach orchard nestled at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains.
When Zoe returns home with her daughter and boyfriend Kyle, she finds that she’s the only person in town who doesn’t expect her to give up the life she’s established far away from Copper Creek. Everyone believes she was born to run the orchard, but how can she make it her home after so many years?
Cruz Huntley never quite got over his first love, Zoe Collins, the little sister of his best friend Brady. Not when she cheated on him during their “break,” not when she took off to parts unknown with good-for-nothing Kyle Jenkins, and not even now—five years later.
As life-changing decisions and a history with Cruz hang over Zoe’s head, tensions rise between her and Kyle. Even as she comes to terms with the shifting relationships in her life, Zoe still isn’t sure if she can remain in Copper Creek with her new responsibilities . . . and her first love.

You can find Blue Ridge Sunrise online at:

Amazon US | Amazon AU | Amazon UK
ChristianBook | GoodReads | Koorong

My Review

Zoe Collins is back in Copper Creek for her grandmother’s funeral, accompanied by her musician boyfriend and four-year-old daughter. She’s only planned to stay the day—she and Kyle have to get back to Nashville for a concert, and she has no desire to reconnect with her father. But her plans change when she finds out she’s inherited Granny’s peach orchard, the only place she’s felt at home since her mother died.

What no one has told her in the five years she’s been away is that the orchard manager is Cruz Huntley, her first love and Gracie’s father. Now the two are thrown together as Zoe tries to save her family orchard, against the advice of everyone else—especially Kyle, and her father. And it seems someone is prepared to do more than tell her running the orchard is a stupid idea.

Someone seems prepared to go to great lengths to ensure she gives up and goes back to Nashville.

Zoe and Cruz were both great characters, and I wanted them to get back together right from the start. It was good to see a romance where the couple isn’t apart for the whole novel. I think that’s why I like romantic suspense, because of the way the external suspense plot serves to both bring the characters together and keep them apart. Blue Ridge Sunrise did a great job in this regard.

There were lots of great lines. Unfortunately, I can’t share most of them because they might give something important away (although I did share the opening line last week as part of #FirstLineFriday). Let’s just say the writing is excellent, and there are many nuggets of truth hidden in Blue Ridge Sunrise. Like this line at the top of this post.

The other thing I liked …

While there is a happy-ever-after ending (this is a romance. There has to be a happy-ever-after ending), the ending isn’t all roses and pink unicorns. Relationships are messy, and can’t always be tidied up nicely to fit a 80,000 word novel (or however long this is).

Blue Ridge Sunrise is the beginning of a series, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing some of those relationships develop and improve in future novels. As an aside, while it’s the beginning of a series, it’s the same setting as Denise Hunter’s last book, Sweetbriar Cottage, and there are a couple of references.

Overall, recommended for those who enjoy Christian romance with a faith focus, and plenty of suspense.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About Honeysuckle Dreams

(Book Two in the Blue Ridge Romance series)

After Brady Collins’ ex-wife dies, he receives devastating news—his nine-month-old son Sam isn’t his son at all. And Sam’s wealthy maternal grandparents want custody of the child. Brady knows he’s in for the fight of his life. But regardless of what any blood test says, Sam is his son, and Brady will go to any lengths to keep him.

Brady’s attorney tips him off that one major life change would virtually assure him of winning guardianship of baby Sam at the final hearing: an impending marriage. And his friend Hope is willing to step in as the loving and devoted fiance.

Local radio celebrity Hope Daniels has been driven by a solitary goal her entire life, and after a happy accident she’s finally offered her dream job. But if the truth comes out about her arrangement with Brady, she may miss the chance of a lifetime and stand in the way of a dear friend’s dreams.

As Brady and Hope make sacrifices to help each other in their times of need, they risk uncovering a truth neither of them expects to find.

Okay. That sounds like another must-read! Have you read Blue Ridge Sunrise or Honeysuckle Dreams? What did you think?

About Denise Hunter

Denise HunterDenise Hunter is the internationally published bestselling author of more than 30 books, including “The Convenient Groom” and “A December Bride” which have been made into Hallmark movies. She has appeared on the The 700 club and won awards such as The Holt Medallion Award, The Carol Award, The Reader’s Choice Award, The Foreword Book of the Year Award, and is a RITA finalist.

Denise writes heartwarming, small-town love stories. Her readers enjoy the vicarious thrill of falling in love and the promise of a happily-ever-after sigh as they savor the final pages of her books.

In 1996, inspired by the death of her grandfather, Denise began her first book, writing while her children napped. Two years later it was published, and she’s been writing ever since. Her husband says he inspires all her romantic stories, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too!

When Denise isn’t orchestrating love lives on the written page, she enjoys traveling with her family, drinking good coffee, and playing drums. Denise makes her home in Indiana where she and her husband raised three boys and are currently enjoying an empty nest.

Find Denise Hunter online at:

Website | Facebook

Book Review | The Man He Never Was by James L Rubart

Toren Daniels, a somewhat-famous football player, wakes up in a strange hotel room with no idea how he got there, and finds he has been missing for the last eight months. He has no idea where he has been, but he realises he has changed into The Man He Never Was.

He is no longer angry.

But as time goes—and as he tries to reconnect with his wife and children—Torren finds the anger returning. This leads him on a quest to find where he was during those missing eight months, and what he can do to make the anger go away forever.

The Man He Never Was is a modern twist on old tales: Jekyll and Hyde, Banner and Hulk, Saul and Paul.

One character says:

Book Quote: "If we're willing to admit it, we all have a monster inside us, and we're fighting to stop it from taking over our lives."

That was definitely Toren’s visible battle, but the statement got me wondering? What monsters were inside the other characters in the story? What about in real life? What monsters are inside the people I know? What monster is inside me? They are interesting questions, and they got me thinking …

But then the tone of the novel changed.

The second half of The Man He Never Was contained some deep spiritual truths. But it also contained some speculative woo-woo stuff (that’s a real term, right?). Unfortunately, the speculative elements didn’t work for me. I prefer to see characters work through their problems in something that approximates the real world, working through some kind of replicable solution. Yes, I know James L Rubart writes speculative novels, and I should have expected this. But I didn’t—perhaps because this novel was based on Jekyll and Hyde.

I have read and enjoyed several of James Rubart’s earlier novels, but The Man He Never Was didn’t work so well for me. The writing was as outstanding as ever. The first half was brilliant, and it raised lots of questions. But the second half didn’t answer my questions, although I’m sure diehard Rubart fans will love it.

Thanks to Thomas Nelson and NetGalley for providing a free ebook for review.

About James L Rubart

Author Photo: James RubartJames L. Rubart is 28 years old, but lives trapped inside an older man’s body. He thinks he’s still young enough to water ski like a madman and dirt bike with his two grown sons, and loves to send readers on journeys they’ll remember months after they finish one of his stories.

He’s the best-selling, Christy, Carol, INSPY, and RT Book Reviews award winning author of eight novels as well as a professional speaker. During the day he runs his marketing company which helps businesses, authors, and publishers make more coin of the realm. He lives with his amazing wife on a small lake in eastern Washington.

Find James Rubart online at:

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Twitter

About The Man He Never Was

What if You Woke up One Morning and the Darkest Parts of Yourself Were Gone?

Toren Daniels vanished eight months back, and his wife and kids have moved on—with more than a little relief. Toren was a good man but carried a raging temper that often exploded without warning. So when he shows up on their doorstep out of the blue, they’re shocked to see him alive. But more shocked to see he’s changed. Radically.

His anger is gone. He’s oddly patient. Kind. Fun. The man he always wanted to be. Toren has no clue where he’s been but knows he’s been utterly transformed. He focuses on three things: Finding out where he’s been. Finding out how it happened. And winning back his family.

But then shards of his old self start to rise from deep inside—like the man kicked out of the NFL for his fury—and Toren must face the supreme battle of his life.

In this fresh take on the classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, James L. Rubart explores the war between the good and evil within each of us—and one man’s only chance to overcome the greatest divide of the soul.

You can find The Man He Never Was online at:

Amazon | ChristianBook | Goodreads | Koorong

Read the introduction below:

Have you read The Man Who Never Was? What did you think?